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The Light Fantastic: Discworld #2
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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2004
"The Light Fantastic," the second book in the Discworld series, starts where the first book left off, almost to the second. Bumbling wizard college dropout Rincewind, along with his tourist companion Twoflower, get a reprieve from their fall through the void of space. In the meanwhile, Discworld is moving steadily towards collision with an ominous red star that threatens the existence of life, the universe, and everything. Only the eight great magic spells can save the world, and since one of those spells is lodged in Rincewind's mind, he reluctantly must play an important role in the race to save Discworld.
Even funnier than the first in the series, this book introduces Cohen the barbarian, a geriatric anti-Rambo hero who is far fiercer than he looks. The reader is treated to the Keystone Kops antics of the senior wizards as they try to track down Rincewind and save the universe. There is a hilarious scene where Twoflower teaches Death how to play bridge. The story is full of gnomes, dwarves, trolls, and talking trees, as well as a gingerbread cottage. The reader is enlightened on the power of persuasion and the danger of flowery metaphors, and even gets a peek into the mind of the great turtle A'Tuin to learn its current destination.
Slapstick, parody, biting satire, word play, and philosophy are all here to enjoy. The plot is neatly tied up at the end, so at this point you can move forward to another book in the wizardry series, or switch to one of the other Discworld tracks. But in either case, there is much more to explore in the wacky and magical world of Terry Pratchett.
Eileen Rieback
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Light Fantastic is the second book in Terry Pratchett's brilliantly funny Discworld series, continuing the tale related in the first book The Colour of Magic. The last we knew, Rincewind and Discworld's first tourist Twoflower had fallen off the rim of the world, which is an especially dangerous happenstance on a world that is totally flat and carried on the backs of four elephants who in turn stand atop the great cosmic turtle Great A'Tuin. While Rincewind is Discworld's most incompetent wizard and all-around unlucky fellow, he manages to evade the clutches of Death (although he does bump into him fairly often) time and again (27 times by Twoflower's count at the midpoint of this novel). Why this is so is, we discover, is because Rincewind carries one of the eight most powerful spells from the magical Octavo. Reality keeps having to reshape itself in order to keep rescuing the wizard. Although Rincewind, the eternally optimistic Twoflower, and the magical Luggage of sapient pearwood are once again on the disc, they face a number of obstacles in getting home to Ankh-Morpork. They are fortunate enough to join forces with Disworld's greatest hero Cohen the Barbarian; Cohen is an old man now, but he doesn't let that stop him from rescuing maidens, stealing treasures, and doing other heroic things. At this particular time, the Discworld itself is in danger, threatened with an imminent collision with a giant red star heading its way. The wizards of Unseen University believe that all eight powerful spells from the Octavo must be read in order to save the Discworld, so the missing Rincewind must be found in order to release the necessary eighth spell locked inside his brain. A series of adventures and misadventures ensue for our motley crew of characters, including a stopover at a vacated witch's house made of candy, a wild ride on a broomstick, a collision with a druid-steered cloud, and a trip to the home of Death himself before Rincewind manages to return home. Whether he can actually make use of the eighth spell and somehow manage to avert the Discworld's total destruction by the onrushing red star is, as is typical for this inept failed wizard, questionable at best.
The Light Fantastic builds upon the story of The Colour of Magic and breathes more life into the unique Discworld of Terry Pratchett's imaginative construction. More areas of the world are revealed to the reader, and we for the first time get a decent look at what goes on in the school of wizardry. Not only do we meet Cohen the Barbarian, we are also introduced to the ape librarian of Unseen University, who will become a significant character in later novels. You should certainly read the previous novel before this one because the two are closely connected in terms of plot, characterization, etc. It will also help you to recognize just how much more vibrant and real Pratchett's Discworld seems by the end of The Light Fantastic. The comedy quotient of both novels is about equal, but the storyline seems much stronger and flows much more naturally in this one. Pratchett was honing his already sharp scythe of quick wit and nascent satire in these first two Discworld novels, building a compellingly unique little world and populating it with unforgettable characters. This is high-brow comedy of the highest order, and we readers are privileged to be able to say we were there from the start with Rincewind, Twoflower, and the Luggage.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Terry Pratchett's Light Fantastic is the second in his acclaimed Discworld series. However, I have not read the series in chronological fashion but in a rather haphazard manner which probably serves as some sort of model for chaos theory. There are disadvantages to such a chaotic approach. I have, for example, covered much of Commander Vimes' career in reverse order. On the other hand, reading the Discworld series in something like a reverse chronological order has its benefits. It is the literary equivalent of an archeological dig in which you start in the present and dig your way back to first causes. In many respects this is my Discworld version of Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale, as this represents my journey to the dawn of Discworld. Unlike the earth, there is evidence of intelligent design behind the evolution of Discworld. That design falls squarely in the deft comedic and thoughtful writing of Terry Pratchett.

Light Fantastic begins with a real cliffhanger. Actually, Light Fantastic begins where "The Colour of Magic" left off, with our two unlikely heroes, the rather cowardly, lapsed wizard Rincewind and the incredulous tourist Twoflower tumbling in space somewhere off the edge of Discworld. The story is rather simple. Discworld is on a collision course with a giant red star. Discworld can be saved but it requires a combination of eight spells, seven of which are safely ensconced in the Octavo, the book of spells left by Discworld's creator. As to the critical eighth spell, Rincewind appears to have accidentally absorbed the spell into his subconscious during a `visit' with the great book. In order for the world to be saved, Rincewind will have to come to the Octavo or the Octavo will have to come to Rincewind.

As with any Discworld book the joy is to be found not in the ending but in the journey. Twoflower and Rincewind are not what one would call perfectly matched yet they embark on a journey together (without really knowing it is a journey) and quickly develop a certain way of getting along with each other while appearing to be entirely dysfunctional. The two reminded me of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in one of their "Road" movies. We run into a toothless Cohen the Barbarian and a young lady who becomes his love in hilarious fashion. DEATH and his stepdaughter make an appearance and DEATH evidences his immortal, dry wit in a fashion worthy of the prince of darkness. The librarian of Unseen University also appears. Last but not least we have the wizards. One wizard, in particular stands out, the seemingly unassuming Trymon. But as unassuming as he seems his thirst for power is evident. He achieves power that seems very reminiscent of Stalin's rise in the early years of the USSR.

As the red star approaches Discworld is engulfed in panic. The nearer it gets the more bizarre the behavior of the people of Discworld, the wizards and assorted trolls and dwarves. The ending is very satisfying. In some small way the acts performed by Rincewind struck me as similar to those performed by the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. He had to look inside himself at the end of the book and I think it clear that Pratchett had him find (or try to find) more than just the eighth spell.

Light Fantastic was a fun read. Having read Discworld in something like a reverse order I think it fair to say that this early story has more humor than philosophy. The combination of the two is one of the enjoyable benefits of reading Discworld. My archeological dig into this strange and funny universe reveals that the "philosophy of Discworld" was subject to an evolutionary process. Unlike the evolution of our species on Earth, the evolution of Discworld has been nothing but positive.

Light Fantastic is a funny, thoughtful book that will be enjoyed by any Pratchett fan or anyone looking to spend a few hours lost in a wacky, wonderful parallel universe.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2001
The Light Fantastic is the sequel to Pratchett's first Discworld book (The Color of Magic), and I definitely think it's better. The plot is (unlike in The Color of Magic) concentrated on one thing, and the thing is a bright red star that's approaching the disc. The two main characters are Rincewind and Twoflower, the two fellas that fell off the Disc in the previous book, and Twoflower's luggage, a box with weird temper. They experience many things that can only happen on the Disc, and some regular things, like meeting the Disc's greatest hero, the 70 year-old, Cohen the Barbarian, but the main idea of the book is them saving the Discworld from the red star.
Rincewind, an UU (Unseen University) dropout, has one of the 8 great spells the Creator left. The only problem with the spell is, it seems to have a mind of its own, and it tries to talk to him. And whenever Rincewind is in trouble, or a near-death situation (believe me, there's lots of them) the spell tries to say itself. He spends most of his time to save Twoflower from himself and the other part of the time running from people who want to get their hands on the eighth spell.
Twoflower is the Disc's first, and probably last tourist. He used to be an insurance (in-sewer-ants) agent back in his continent. He has quite a lot of money with him, and he keeps them in a box called the luggage. The one thing Rincewind hates about him the most is the fact that Twoflower believes that he can buy anything from anybody, even Death's living room clock.
Another thing pretty much everybody asks is "Should I read The Color of Magic first?" Well, I myself read The Light Fantastic first and still understood everything and got all the jokes. Pratchett does a great job explaining what happened in CoM. But no matter whether you read it first or even last, you're gonna have a great time reading THE LIGHT FANTASTIC, by Terry Pratchett.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2000
If you were smart enough to read Colour of Magic (A riot) then you will be looking for more Rincewind, Luggage, and laughs. Light Fantastic is here to the Rescue answering all questions and concluding the story that started it all.
Once again Terry has collected an off-the-wall collection of humorous encounters for our heroes. Rincewind and friends must once again save the world. One of the world's eight most powerful spells is hiding in his head, and the wrong people want it. So he must call upon all his finely tuned abilities... of running away! Twoflower and the Luggage are there to help along with Diskworld's greatest warrior... who is now a ridiculously old man.
-Many people consider this one to be better than CoM... They are both awesome. End of story. However, they are both too short and should have come in one normal sized book.
-F.Y.I- The next book is Sourcery. Equal Rights was written next, but has no Rincewind and is generally not considered one of Pratchett's better works.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2002
Even better than the Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic takes the reader from the edge of the world to the unimaginable Wyrmberg, from a gingerbreadhouse to the deepest cellars of the Unseen University. A red star is threatening to destroy our beloved Discworld, and who can save it but Twoflower, Rincewind (last seen dropping off the end of the world), an old barbaric geezer, a luggage with more legs than one can count and one of the 8 great spells plus a wonderful array of silly, funny, innovative and original characters.
Still as intriguing as The Colour of Magic, this book is even funnier, but still (luckily) not as ravishingly mad as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, to which many draw unfair and impossible paralells. This story is very different and holds more suspence wrapped in good fun than any other book I've ever read. Will Rincewind and co. stop the malevolent red star from destroying the Disc? An ingenious ending awaits you, so what are you waiting for! This book is so cheap, you can't afford to miss it.<
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2001
Picks up where 'Colour of Magic' left off. Rincewind and Twoflower is thrown from one problem to another with a quick solution always close at hand to help them.
Actually, you should only read 'Colour of Magic' and 'Light Fantastic' if you are a completist. Otherwise, I recommend readers new to the Discworld to start with the 3rd book featuring the Witches or better yet the 4th book featuring DEATH.
'Light Fantastic' isnt bad. In fact I think its slightly better than the first book. But like I said you wont miss anything much if you dont read them and jump straight to 'Equal Rites' or 'Mort'.
Rincewind, despite starring in a few other Discworld novels, has never quite reached the popularity of other Discworld regulars like the City Watch, Granny Weatherwax or DEATH. I dont know why but I think Rincewind just doesnt have that much pizzazz as a character.
Still, not a bad read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2001
After reading many, many series of books, I should know to temper my expectations until at least the second book. This would have served me well for discworld. While book one was enjoyable, it aimed primarily to set up the world and its characters. With this second volume, we see the next layer of storytelling and humor shine through.
For one, a story can actually materialize now instead of just Rincewind and Twoflower wandering around. Also, new races of characters are added in the traditional way, but in a decidedly non-Tolkein attitude. The trolls in this book in particular are very funny and very witty in their descriptions. Pratchett is starting to take the accepted boundaries of fantasy and twist them to meet his satirical needs, and it is brilliant.
The only reason for a four star review and not five is that I simply must leave room for improvement. There are something like two dozen books now, so I assume there is a smattering of fives in there somewhere.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2000
Like "Godfather II" before it, "The Light Fantastic" is that rare sequel that improves upon the original. Not a difficult task here, as "The Colour of Magic" was, while being intensely imaginative, sprawling and largely unfocused. Here, Pratchett concocts a story with as much linear thrust as the strange red star that threatens to ram into the Discworld. Needless to say, the only person who can save the world is Rincewind, that scaredy-cat wizard who doesn't know any spells (well, he knows one spell... or at least he knows where to find that spell). He is cynical as ever, and funny too. Once again he is joined by the world's first tourist, Twoflower, who is an even more hyped-up innocent here than in "The Colour of Magic". I still love the relationship between these two great characters. Rincewind is in constant sarcasm mode, while Twoflower takes everything he hears at face value. There are some wonderfully comic misunderstandings between these two. Throw in Twoflower's ever-loyal Luggage, and we've got a threesome for the ages.
Once again Pratchett populates his world with ridiculous characters (Cohen the Barbarian, an 80-year old hero whose legend is in his own lifetime) and marvelous groan-worthy puns (What do you call an angry mob robbing a music store? Luters...) that make this an entertaining fantasy parody from page one. And on top of that, he throws in some neat meta-fiction too. When introducing Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan, a warrior heroine, he implores whomever is to draw the cover of the book to resist the urge to dress her up in "something off the cover of the more advanced kind of lingerie catalogue for the specialized buyer". It just wouldn't be practical in her line of work. And the swarthy men she rides with? Well, they're going to die sooner or later, so let's not bother getting to know them. It's a wonderful moment of self-awareness.
Is it necessary to read "The Colour of Magic" before "The Light Fantastic"? I think so. If only to get a better idea of the characters, and their predispositions. And that's really what these stories are about: character. How can a pack of seemingly ordinary innocents save the world? Read on and find out...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 17, 2005
For those of you that are not familiar with Discworld, let me give you a very brief introduction to this magnificent world, which has the shape of a disc, and stands on top of four elephants, which in turn are supported by a giant turtle named A'Thuin. Philosophers have asked themselves two questions throughout history: a) what is the turtle's sex? b) where is the turtle going? Pratchett assures us that we are very close to finding the answer to the second question.

Now, I have to tell you, if you have not read "The Color of Magic", you should get it and start your journey there. This second book stands on its own, but it is considerably more enjoyable if you have the prior book as background. Besides, "The Light Fantastic" picks up the action exactly where "The Color of Magic" ended. Rincewind, the most inept magician in Discworld, and Twoflower, the extravagant tourist, are in a spaceship in the space surrounding the Disc. But soon enough Rincewind is expelled from the ship and starts to roam through the cosmos.

Meanwhile, in the cellars of the Unseen University, the Octavo, a book left behind by the Creator of the Universe, is showing a disturbing behavior. The Octavo contained the eight most important spells (eight is a crucial number in Discworld) in the world until Rincewind had one of them accidentally transferred to into his head. Now, the eight spells are needed by Hogswatch night or Discworld will be destroyed. This places Rincewind in a very important role, but one that may be extremely dangerous too.

Pratchett's humor is sublime; the author presents cleverly crafted situations that show dazzling parallelisms with our world. One of the funniest comments I found in this book has to do with Christopher Columbus and the reason why ships look as if they are disappearing over the edge of the world. Another tool used by the author is choosing a known character and create a satire around it. In this case, we meet Cohen the Barbarian, who as you can imagine reminds us of Conan. Cohen is / was the greatest hero in Discworld, but now he is old and not even close to the prime of his life. You can certainly imagine how much fun Pratchett makes of this poor character. In some cases though, the satire is so complex that it is hard to notice all of the witty remarks.

Another big plus for this series are the characters. Besides Cohen the Barbarian and Rincewind, we are delighted with the presence of Death. This character shows up mostly unannounced of course, loves to party and tries to remain stress free. On the other hand, we have Twoflower, who clashes constantly with every other inhabitant of Discworld, is really weird, and shows striking similarities to the people in our own world! My recommendation for those of you that like unscripted spontaneous fun is that you should seriously consider picking up this series. On the other hand, those that like linear narrations and tidily created worlds, may want to pass this one up, since as Pratchett himself says "you can't map a sense of humor".
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